Chapter 2: Topical Index
And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. (John 2:1-2)
This passage introduces the reader not only to the following events of a single wedding, but to a theme of feasting, which permeates much of John's gospel. In this book, the party hardly ever ends. There is a festival around every corner, and a meal as well. After this wedding where a special wine is central, Jesus appears in Jerusalem for the Passover festival (John 2.12-13); from there he meets a woman and talks about drinking special water (John 4). Then he is back in Jerusalem for another festival where, again, special water is a central issue(John 5), followed (John 6) by a meal for a massive multitude and a long discussion about eating and drinking the best substances. From there, Jesus goes back to Jerusalem for another festival (John 7), where a long debate begins, ending in Jesus' departure from Israel's leadership; after, Jesus heads back to Jordan briefly before joining his friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus for a meal (John 11-12). Immediately following is another Passover, where Jesus eats his last meal with his disciples, beginning a long chain of events leading to the sacrifice of the Lamb of God (John 19) which we met early in John's gospel (John 1). Finally, the gospel ends with a intimate meal of bread and fish (John 21).
If memory serves, the synoptic gospels record only one Passover during Christ's ministry; John's gospel mentions three, tripling the time of Jesus ministry. Moreover, the gospel is one long discussion of eating and drinking, the bread of life, the water of life--which is found in Christ's blood, the fruit of the vine--showing how Jesus is that "Lamb of God" celebrated and remembered at every Passover festival, eaten at other festivals, devoured in the wilderness like mana from heaven; even the scene of the crucifixion is tied into the meal motif which is so central to John's gospel.
Why the emphasis on food and drink? The bread and wine have been Christian emblems from the earliest days of the church, and John's gospel is, as another poster wrote, a catechismal book, written liturgically, to be used as part of congregational meetings; the constant presence of a meal in John may reflect the centrality of the "love feast" early Christians engaged in at every formal meeting, adding fresh theological perspective to a very familiar ritual through the the amazing insights of John's gospel into the meaning and nature of immortality gained in the sacramental bread and wine.